Endrin laughed, his blade ringing as it scraped paint off the armor of his opponent. “It’s a shame, really. That detail must have cost you a fair amount of gold. How much was the filigree…” With a roar, his opponent charged forward, hellbent on stopping Endrin’s mocking permanently.
With a quick shift left and a slide of his foot, Endrin moved out of the way, the wind from Gorth’s swing ruffing the smaller man’s hair. “I see. Well, if that’s the way you’d like to play it.” Endrin’s tone changed from mocking to something darker. Off-balance from over-swinging, Gorth did not see the blade the pierced his side.
The small blade barely scraped his skin, and he began to laugh, thinking Endrin far too weak to harm him. His laughter stuck in his throat, turning to a gurgle of pain as fire erupted from the tip of Endrin’s blade, searing Gorth from the inside out. Endrin shook his head as he bent over Gorth’s limp form, checking for any valuables. “Even the newest recruit is taught to never underestimate their opponent, Gorth.” A pouch of gold clinks softly in the half-elf’s hand. “I suspect you missed that lesson.”
No matter the class, character in the Pathfinder RPG can always benefit from more magic. From the heavily-aromored fighter to the masters of arcane magic, more options are almost always a good thing. In the case of Ultimate Magic, from Paizo, more options are definitely a good thing. Ultimate Magic is the third core book from Paizo for Pathfinder, and this book, much like its predecessor the Advanced Player’s Guide, is chock full of information that will be helpful to many players. Of course, the more martial classes won’t find as much in this book as their arcane and divine counterparts, but there is still enough goodness here for everyone that it merits picking up the book if you play Pathfinder.
The book is divided in the same was as most Pathfinder books, with new class information, including a new 20-level base class (the Magus), and new Archetypes for any class with arcane leanings (sorry, Barbarians) coming at the front. Next comes a chapter called Mastering Magic, which includes information on Spellblights (magical curses), Spell Duels, Binding Outsiders, Building Constructs, New Familiars, Pre-built Spellbooks, and Designing Spells. Chapter 3 gives a host of feats, Chapter 4 covers Word of Power (more on that in a bit), and Chapter 5 gives new spells for all arcane classes.
Out of all of the information in the book, Chapters 2 and 4 intrigue me the most. Chapter 2, with its varied topics, has a wealth of information that is super-neat and super-useful. I think that items like spellbooks make for very interesting treasure, and the info in this chapter helps me put those together more easily. As well, more information on binding outsiders and building constructs is always welcome, as those two things are very wizard-y things to do, and before this book, a lot of legwork would have had to go into those activities (either on the part of the GM, or the players) to make them work.
Chapter 4 is probably the most interesting chapter to me. Words of Power are spells that any spellcaster can build on the fly. To be a Wordcaster, you just have to decide to be one at character creation (pending GM approval, of course). Instead of learning specific spells, you learn Target Words (personal, area, etc), Effect Words (damage type, spell effect, and so on), and optionally, Meta Words (duration increase, effectiveness increase). If a Wordcaster knows the right words, they can effectively cast any spell in the spellbook, at the expense of some of the power. Word of Power are very flexible, you can throw together the spell effects you want on the fly, if you’re quick enough with things, but you do sacrifice some spell power. For example, to create a Magic Missile spell, you effectively have to be able to create Wordspells of 2nd level, where Magic Missile is a 1st-level spell for most arcane casters. It’s a complex system, but one that could be a lot of fun if the player playing the Wordcaster takes their time to learn it. I love abilities that give me flexibility, and this is right up my alley.
Overall, you get a lot for your money with Ultimate Magic. I did not come across anything in the book that I thought was useless, and the book is packed with flavor. As well, Paizo retained their uniformly great layout and art design with the book.
Final Verdict: If you play Pathfinder and want some more magical oomph, buy this book. If you don’t play Pathfinder, you might find some interesting things in the book, but it will be less worth your while. Ultimate Magic is published by Paizo. And, as usual with Paizo and Pathfinder, all of the information in Ultimate Magic is available for free in the Pathfinder SRD.
Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. I write about RPGs like it's my job (man, I wish it were), and I am working on a campaign setting called Shadows of the Collegium. Also, I design games. You can find out more about me on Twitter, and about Shadows of the Collegium and my other games at sandandsteam.net.